D&D 5E What do you want from an NPC list?

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
There has been mention of how one of things players wish WoTC did was release a list of 5e NPCs, what does that look like to you? Does it look something like AD&D's Rogue's Gallery, where you had a hundred human fighters, each one just one line long in a table of varying levels? Or do you want something more like this, where each NPC is covered from level 1 to 20, so it fits whatever level your PCs are?*

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*No, I know I couldn't put together a product and distribute it looking like this, with no 5e specific license.
 

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I prefer seeds and rp info - though the above is certainly useful. Something like the below from Friends or Foes from Dragon Warriors is great for me...
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
so when you look for NPCs, you don't worry about level appropriate stats or any of that, but focus on the personality and background? I'm assuming you'll then stat up as needed? Just trying to make sure I understand :)
 

Stats are good but they're the less interesting bit, for me. I like to have npcs who are interesting, regardless of level. Now, for an NPC villain, you may have to make it level appropriate but a soyrcebook with npcs of varying levels rather than differently leveled iterations of the same NPC, would be ideal. If that makes sense?
 


steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
so when you look for NPCs, you don't worry about level appropriate stats or any of that, but focus on the personality and background? I'm assuming you'll then stat up as needed? Just trying to make sure I understand :)

Quite right. If it is going to be an npc that will need stats, I'll throw some stats together. Presumably this means they'll have a class, so basic understanding of class features/abilities are needed and probably would require a quick look up [if, say, on the fly I had to make an npc combat-ready].

I mean, I know, as DM, if this is someone more/less/comparably powerful to the party, if they are a classed individual, just by virtue of who they are.

But, yes, the background personality is more interesting to me as a DM and, I find, makes for more interesting interactions/moments in game than having a page of stats for an npc.

To use your example above: I want to throw in a dragonborn fighter for...what? Is this just some guy they run into at a tavern who wants to join their group? [lowlevel]. Is this a captain of the town guard who's responding to some disturbance the PCs caused? [mid-to-high level] IS this the uber-BBEG-mastermind behind all of the party's woes? [super-high level] Your proposal permits any of these, yes. But I don't really need the minutia of "Is he 4th or 3rd level?", or "13th instead of 12th, he gets this/that." And, it seems, this the same [personality-wise] creature whether he's 3rd or 13th? That doesn't seem like it should be the case.

Maybe, just off the top of my head here, if you are going to present an NPC across 20 levels of crunch...maybe provide, say, 3 levels of flavor?

An "Encountered as low level: he's like this. Encountered in middling levels: he's like this. Encountered at high levels: he's like this."

Make him seem like a growing, breathing character. We seem to often forget the "C" of "NPC". That way, also, if they are the type of character that can be encountered more than once over a PC's career/lifetime, they aren't just the same cookie-cutter guy they met 10 levels ago.

And by making the categories, simply, "low/medium/high" level, instead of assigning numbers, that leaves things fluid/flexible enough for groups that say "low level stops at 3rd" while other groups cna say "low level" is anything under 10, or the "9th level is end-of-middling/start-of-high "name" level" crowd and the "you're not high level until 12+" crowd can use whichever personality/background works for their definition of those levels.

Just an idea. But yeah, I personally, generally, don't need/use 20 levels of stats for NPCs.
 

Bupp

Adventurer
I like what you did there. I usually don't have time to flesh things out, but I can improvise and build upon the basic personality that you've fleshed out. Having the range of stats available makes it nice to use as a recurring NPC.
 

This kind of thing from Pelinore (Imagine mag) may float boats - seeds, some stats, plus locales.
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Thanks everyone. In terms of disclosure, I was using Rogue's Gallery as my baseline. That was 90% just tables of hundreds of NPCs organized by class on a table. You had one line for each one of a random level and core stats, and that was it. The NPCs who did have a background were only at a specific level. So my goal was to get a range of class/race combinations, and then have values for every level so no matter what your PCs levels were, you could throw in the NPC. I really want to keep that aspect in scope.

As is no stranger to me, I let raw numbers get in the way of things :) I like the tiered approach. Rather than have stat lines for each level, just have brief stat blocks and seeds for each of the tiers.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I prefer stat blocks with no name or personality, just a clearly defined role like "apprentice wizard" or "archmage," like at the end of the Monster Manual. I just want more of them -- like, in between apprentice wizard and archmage should be at least 8 more wizards, one for each arcane tradition. There should be at least 3-6 drop-in stat-blocks for warlocks, for example (for all the patrons and pact boons).

This allows me to come up with the personality and then think, "Yeah that guy is a high priest and that guy is a warlord and that guy is an expert craftsman" and I've got enough stat-blocks up my sleeves to just wing it.
 


steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Love it! Love everything about it.

Just enough to use as is. Get more in depth as necessary. DMs with their own stories can ignore/adjust the fluff if they want. DMs who aren't good with improv don't have and still feel like a rounded being with a history. The crunch is set/stable and also easily swapped out if desired (e.g. want to give him some magic sword the party is hunting for instead of the war hammer, etc...).

This is great...and keeping it all to 1 page means printed or pdf versions can be easily assembled.

Very nice.
 


steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Now you just have to duplicate that a dozen times...maybe 15...per class...across races and genders...with art. :D

No sweat, I'm sure. Be done tomorrow, right? lol. ;)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Now you just have to duplicate that a dozen times...maybe 15...per class...across races and genders...with art. :D

No sweat, I'm sure. Be done tomorrow, right? lol. ;)

Well, maybe not tomorrow lol. But I do have art for about 50 NPCs. What I really need is Wotc to come out with a 3PP license ;)
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
I would like a short fluff write-up and some light crunch suggestions, spells that make an NPC feel like their character for example. The actual statistics of my NPCs are usually in flux until the moment the characters actually begin interacting with them. Partly to keep my players from playing stupid, but also partly so that if I don't have to do anything stat-related, I won't have wasted the time filling out a stat-sheet.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
so when you look for NPCs, you don't worry about level appropriate stats or any of that, but focus on the personality and background? I'm assuming you'll then stat up as needed? Just trying to make sure I understand :)
Yep that's true for me. The main things I want are: A name, short appearance, personality quirk, interesting background item. All of this in about 2 lines. I'll do the rest.

I'm talking about random NPCs I need on the fly. "Proper" NPCs for a fight I would also want all the stat's for.
 

Bayonet

First Post
I prefer stat blocks with no name or personality, just a clearly defined role like "apprentice wizard" or "archmage," like at the end of the Monster Manual. I just want more of them -- like, in between apprentice wizard and archmage should be at least 8 more wizards, one for each arcane tradition. There should be at least 3-6 drop-in stat-blocks for warlocks, for example (for all the patrons and pact boons).

This allows me to come up with the personality and then think, "Yeah that guy is a high priest and that guy is a warlord and that guy is an expert craftsman" and I've got enough stat-blocks up my sleeves to just wing it.

I think this is the best choice for me, too. It's not as detailed, but it makes things a lot easier and quicker.

If I need a special NPC, I'll just stat up one of my spare PC's I have floating in my head.
 

Lackhand

First Post
When I need quirks, I don't need stats.
When I need stats, I don't need quirks.

I want both, but I don't want to have to split out statblocks between those two purposes.
Mostly I want battle stat blocks because I find it difficult to reuse personality-from-a-can.
 

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